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Ask the Expert: What Are the Best Products to Stain My Wood Deck?

Stained Log Home Deck
Photo: Courtesy Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.
A deck plays a special role in a home, giving you a fresh-air retreat to stretch your outdoor décor style, eat al fresco, entertain, or simply relax with the views. A deck also takes a daily beating from the elements. The horizontal surfaces are exposed to snow loads, ice, standing water, and a relentless onslaught of ultraviolet (UV) rays. Add foot traffic to the mix, and your wood deck can quickly become a high-maintenance hassle. Using the best products to stain your wood deck ensures it remains a place to create more wonderful memories and a lot less work. 

The Wood Deck Challenge

Ultraviolet degradation and water damage from snow, ice, and standing water are Mother Nature’s way of turning wood back to dirt. The best way to protect the wood from this natural process is not always the obvious one. Traditionally, stain manufacturers have embraced the idea that a film between the wood and the elements is the best way to offer protection. These film-forming latex and oil-based products dominate the market.
The problem with any film-forming product comes from water. When water sits on the film, the film gets saturated, then wets the wood underneath and softens it so it absorbs even more water. When you walk across this softened surface the “protective” film rubs off. It’s also worth noting that foot traffic also slowly grinds the film off when the deck is dry.
Once there are microcracks in the protective film, water begins to seep in and penetrate it even more, causing rot. The stain will bubble, and insects set up shop, creating further damage. Your once beautiful wood deck is now on its way to turning into dirt.

It's an Inside Job

At Perma-Chink, we spent decades developing a film-forming finish for horizontal surfaces that meets our performance standards. That was until we realized there was a different way to solve the challenge. Instead of coating the surface of the wood, why not impregnate the wood with ultra-microscopic protectant particles?
Our product, Deck Defense, is specially formulated to penetrate the wood and lock the protective features in the wood, not on the wood. Because it’s so effective, this stain lasts much longer than the hundreds of other available stain products that still use a film for protection.
Ultimately, a stain’s longevity depends on many factors, the most important being the wood’s initial health and how clean it is when the stain is applied. When applied to healthy and clean wood, Deck Defense allows the wood’s natural beauty and character to remain visible for years to come. In contrast, film-forming stains require numerous treatments over the years. By the second or third treatment, the stain becomes opaque, like paint.

The Best Products for Success

To ensure the longevity, good looks, and performance of your deck, make sure it’s clean before applying Deck Defense. A new wood deck may appear clean, but everything from mill glaze to pollen to exhaust particles from transporting the wood can interfere with the stain and make it look blotchy. Log Wash is an environmentally friendly, easy-to-apply wash that thoroughly cleans and preps your wood for Deck Defense.
Finally, while it’s not directly related to performance, it’s important to think about the color of your stain. In our experience, many people want their deck to be the same color as their home, but because decks are often built with a different species of wood than the house, this is impossible to achieve even if using the exact same stain. Moreover, an exact match would hide your deck. A deck is structurally different from a house and a gorgeous feature that enhances your home’s overall aesthetic. Show it off!
Instead of an exact match, consider staying with the same family of tones — reds, browns, or grays. Deck Defense offers a wide array of choices in these colors. Stains are forgiving, and generally any color within the same tone as your home will provide a tasteful contrast that adds depth and interest.
Used together, Perma-Chink’s Log Wash and Deck Defense give you a stunning deck that provides years of enjoyment with little maintenance. They are the best products so your wood deck can live its best life for you and your home. 

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